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Data on its own has no meaning, only when interpreted by some kind of data processing system does it take on meaning and become information.
A datum is a statement accepted at face value. Data is the plural of datum. A large class of practically important statements are measurements or observations of a variable. Such statements may comprise numbers, words, or images.
Raw data are numbers, characters, images or other outputs from devices to convert physical quantities into symbols, in a very broad sense. Such data are in a form which can be further processed by a human or (especially) input into a computer, stored and processed there, or transmitted (output) to another human or information processor. Computers nearly always represent data in binary. Raw data is a relative term; data processing commonly occurs by stages, and the "processed data" from one data processing system may be considered the "raw data" of the next.
Data on its own has no meaning, only when interpreted by some kind of data processing system does it take on meaning and become information. People or computers can find patterns in data to perceive information, and information can be used to enhance knowledge. Since knowledge is prerequisite to wisdom, we always want more data and information. But, as modern societies verge on information overload, we especially need better ways to find patterns. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data, May 2004
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